China says PM Sharif not snubbed, Xi met him ‘several times’ at SCO

China has dismissed reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping snubbed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by not holding a formal meeting with him on the margins of the SCO Summit.

world Updated: Jun 12, 2017 21:59 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
China-Pakistan relations,President Xi Jinping,Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
File photo taken on June 9, 2017 shows Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif adjusting his earpiece as he attends the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Kazakhstan's capital Astana. (AFP)

China on Monday dismissed reports that President Xi Jinping snubbed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by not holding a formal meeting with him on the margins of the SCO Summit last week, saying the two had several meetings and the countries enjoy an all-weather friendship.

Reports from Beijing had said Xi “snubbed” Pakistan at the SCO meet after two Chinese language teachers were killed by suspected Islamic State fighters in Balochistan. The Chinese nationals - a man and a woman - were kidnapped in Quetta last month.

India and Pakistan were admitted to the SCO at the summit in Astana and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Xi met on the sidelines.

Sharif held bilateral meetings with the heads of state of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Russia.

It now appears that though there was no formal bilateral meeting between Xi and Sharif ahead of the summit or on the sidelines, the two actually met more than once.

“Ican tell you that during the 17th SCO heads of state meeting, President Xi met with Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif several times. Some reports are just nonsense and unwanted. China and Pakistan enjoy an all-weather strategic partnership,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a regular news briefing.

Xi and Sharif had also met in May ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, where the Chinese president had called for “the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to be pushed forward”.

China-Pakistan relations remain a priority for Beijing and it is willing to enrich the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, Xi had said. The two sides should not only continue high-level exchanges but increase interactions between governments, legislative bodies and political parties, Xi was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as telling Sharif.

Xi had added the two countries should strengthen cooperation in counter-terrorism and security and enhance coordination on major international and regional issues.

Ahead of the Belt and Road Forum, China and Pakistan had signed several infrastructure agreements to boost cooperation on the CPEC, including the development of the Gwadar port in Balochistan. The pacts were signed in the presence of Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Referring to the SCO Summit, Lu said it spoke highly about the Belt and Road Forum.

“The summit speaks highly of the BRF held at Beijing in May and also supports the building of Belt and Road and the synergy between this initiative and the regional development initiatives and individual country's develop strategies,” he said.

First Published: Jun 12, 2017 17:37 IST